Last month, the Michigan Public Service Commission rolled out an impressive report on renewable energy in Michigan. The report found that our state is an emerging leader in the renewable energy sector, thanks in large part to our successful renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Enacted in 2008, the RPS required utility companies to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
According to the MPSC report, all Michigan utility companies met the goal, and in many cases, utility companies blew past it as renewables became more popular and demand increased. A big reason for the law’s success is the declining cost of renewable energy. Most of Michigan’s new renewable generation came from wind, which has become consistently cheaper every year. The MPSC reports the most recent wind contracts are half the price of what they were in 2008.
The RPS has also driven innovation and economic development. Since 2008, it has helped reel in more than $3 billion in investments for renewable energy projects, creating jobs in an emerging industry in the process. In fact, according to a 2015 report by Clean Jobs Midwest, Michigan is home to more than 87,000 clean energy jobs and counting. As our state’s clean energy industry continues to expand, all Michiganders will benefit from cheaper energy prices and less energy waste.
In December, Gov. Rick Snyder signed bipartisan legislation that overhauls Michigan’s energy policy. Among other improvements, the new laws increase the RPS from 10 percent to 15 percent by 2021, with an interim 12.5 percent target by 2019. Increasing the RPS will make sure Michigan’s clean energy sector continues growing, creating good jobs for Michiganders, and stimulating our economy.
It is no secret that our country is in the midst of a transition when it comes to how we generate electricity, and Michigan is no different. Many old coal plants are being retired. As we transition away from fossil fuels, the RPS will help our state maintain an energy mix that is diverse, competitive, reliable, and affordable by expanding our use of renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, biomass, and wind.
Larry Ward, executive director